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by Elizabeth Llorente, AARP VIVA, January 2008
Something's coming—and it's coming with an authenticity that should galvanize an already acclaimed classic love story. Five decades after West Side Story debuted at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C., it's back this December.
"It's not a revival," says Arthur Laurents, 90, its original librettist and the man behind the latest production. "This is very different in two respects. One, it's bilingual. And there's going to be attitude in this version. In 1957, [the gangs] were 'cute.' These kinds of kids were never cute. They were vicious. The [real-life] Sharks and the Jets were killers."
Laurents says he's aiming for a more realistic portrayal of a section of Manhattan's West Side known as Hell's Kitchen and the 1950s gang wars that dominated the area. He's cast Latinos in key and supportive roles, and is thrilled with his choice for Maria: Josefina Scaglione, 21, an Argentinian opera-trained actress.
"It's about time" the era is depicted more accurately, says Gerson Borrero, a columnist for New York's largest Spanish-language newspaper, El Diario/La Prensa.
Broadway is the next stop for the production, in March.
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